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Greg Webb
Greg Webb
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Toyota Attempting to Avoid Recalls by Using Semantics?

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According to recent reports, Toyota is not terming steering issues in Corolla and Matrix models "safety defects", but it will grant free repairs to any customer who complains.

The problem being investigated by regulators involves the electronic steering system in the above-referenced Toyota models. About 750,000 vehicles could be affected and Toyota clearly does not want to add to their chart-topping number of recalls this year—over 8.5 million worldwide! Some have reported that, if Toyota does not issue a formal recall, it"also would avoid the legal requirements of a safety recall, such as notifying all affected owners and updating regulators on how many repairs had been made."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating Toyota for a defect (again) after receiving 168 complaints that the electronic steering drifted or locked up. Since opening the probe, documents have been released indicating that the automaker has known about complaints since 2008. "In response to questions from the agency, Toyota said in documents obtained by the Free Press it had received 437 reports of steering problems covering 395 vehicles, including 11 injuries in 18 crashes."

Regardless of the numerical data stated above, Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons stated that the company does not believe the drifting steering amounted to a safety problem, but was a "customer-satisfaction issue".

Well, Toyota, at least you got something right! You’re absolutely spot-on! I would, in fact, NOT be a satisfied customer if my steering drifted, causing me to run off the road or collide with another vehicle, leading to injury, wasted time, and unwanted medical and repair bills. Thank you for being so insightful.

The fact that Toyota is offering free repairs indicates that it acknowledges that there is a true problem with the steering system. You would think that after being forced to pay record amounts for failing to adhere to policies regarding the acceleration defects, the company would be committed to staying on the right track. The automaker simply cannot serve its customers without considering their safety above all else.

Toyota should be urged to re-evaluate the situation at hand and to be sure that the steering problems are truly not a safety issue. The once-respected company not only hurts its own reputation by making sloppy decisions, but the lives of their customers and others sharing the roads.